Where we live 2022


Page last updated: 2022 - due to be refreshed in 2024.


Five key points

  1. There are around 350,000 homes in Suffolk. Nearly 9 in 10 homes are a house or bungalow, and the rest are flats or mobile homes. (Housing stock)  
  2. In 2020-21, 1,833 Suffolk households were recorded as homeless (where councils had a duty to find them accommodation). 187 of these were sleeping rough at the time of their application. (Homelessness)  
  3. Fuel poverty is closely linked to the thermal efficiency of a home. 14.5% of Suffolk households were in fuel poverty in 2019 (48,684 homes). (Fuel poverty)  
  4.  The average house price in Suffolk has increased by 30.8% over the last five years and the median house price in Suffolk remains around is eight times the median salary. (Affordability)  
  5. An assessment of housing needs based on Government methodology suggests that more than 62,000 new Suffolk homes will need to be built over the next 20 years to meet demand. (Estimates of housing need)

Why is housing important in Suffolk?

Good quality housing has a substantial impact on health; a warm, dry and secure home is associated with better health. Nationally, substandard housing conditions are estimated to cost the NHS between £1.4 billion and £2.5 billion every year. This increases to £18.5 billion if costs beyond the first year of treatment are included: ongoing NHS costs, care, mental health costs, as well as loss of economic potential (poorer educational achievement and career prospects, loss of productivity) for victims of hazards, their carers and employers.

The most common hazards in homes are:

  • high housing costs, putting people into poverty
  • insecure tenancies, homelessness, rough sleeping, and living in temporary accommodation which harm mental health
  • cold and damp housing
  • unsafe environments leading to falls and other accidents (including adaptations for people with disabilities).

Other impacts on wellbeing:

The longer the exposure to poor conditions, the greater the impact. Effects include:

  • respiratory conditions, cardiovascular and rheumatoid diseases, as well as hypothermia
  • communicable disease transmission,
  • increased mortality,
  • poor mental health including increased stress, depression, anxiety,
  • children living in overcrowded homes attain less well at school and have a greater risk of behavioural problems.

Figure 1: The links between housing and health

Links between housing and health

Source: Public Health Suffolk County Council.

What is the local picture? Housing stock

Types of housing

There were an estimated 350,120 properties in Suffolk in 2021, an increase of around 23,000 homes (7.1%) since 2011. This 7.1% increase is significantly lower than England as a whole (8.3%).Of the Suffolk properties:

  • nearly a quarter (23.9%) were terraced houses
  • more than one in five were detached (22.9%) and semi-detached houses (21.8%)
  • less than one in five (17.1%) were a bungalow
  • 13.1% were flats, maisonettes or annexes
  • 0.6% (2,180) were caravans, houseboats or mobile homes

Although Suffolk is a largely rural county, most properties (61.4%) were located in urban areas. Distribution of property types varied by area; for example, over a quarter (26.0%) properties in Ipswich were flats compared to fewer than 1 in 10 (6.0%) properties in Mid Suffolk.


Around two thirds of homes (67.3%) were owned, either outright (35.7%) or with a mortgage (31.5%), based on the tenancy status of households at the time of the 2011 Census. Around one in six homes were socially rented (14.8%) and one in seven homes were privately rented (15.6%). The percentage of homes that were rented (either privately or through social landlords) was significantly lower than England, while Suffolk had a significantly higher proportion of owned (and owned outright) properties than England (30.6%).  

Energy efficiency

17.3% of homes in Suffolk have been built this century. Newer homes tend to be more energy-efficient than older homes. Modern energy efficiency standards mean newer homes are better insulated, have more effective windows and are likelier to use efficient technologies throughout the home. Over half (55.1%) of the housing stock in Suffolk is over 50 years old and almost 1 in 5 (17.3%) houses were built before 1900.

The latest data on energy performance certificates show that 39% EPCs for lower-tier local authorities in Suffolk were at band C or above, compared to an average of 40% for England and Wales (2021 data). 

Figure 2: Proportion of housing stock by EPC rating, Suffolk and England to 2021

housing stock by EPC rating showing a bell curve

This figure is likely to be skewed towards more positive ratings, as EPC ratings are mandatory for new builds. However, the proportion of E, F and G rated properties is significantly higher than England, perhaps reflecting challenges faced by the private rented sector, the age of the housing stock and the rurality of the County.

There are significant savings to be gained from increasing energy efficiency, both for public services and for residents. For example, the Building Research Establishment estimate it would cost £7,119 per affected dwelling to fix "excess cold". The cost to the NHS mean payback would take 7 years, but if the wider societal payback is considered, payback would be in 0.4 years (21 weeks).


Average house prices in Suffolk have increased by 30.8% over the last five years, significantly higher than England as a whole: 23.0%.  The increase has been slightly lower for lower quartile prices, at 25.0%, also significantly higher than England (23.1%). Such a rapid increase in house prices makes it considerably harder for all people to afford housing, particularly those on low incomes.

The ratio of median house price to median gross earnings (the affordability ratio) in Suffolk is 8.14, which means that the median house price is 8.14 times higher than the median annual salary (the England ratio is 7.84). The affordability ratio increased in all Suffolk districts between 2015 and 2020 (Figure 3). The highest increase was seen in Mid Suffolk, where the affordability ratio is now 98.48. Babergh is the least affordable district in Suffolk (8.84 affordability ratio).

Figure 3: Ratio of median house price to median gross earnings (the affordability ratio) by Suffolk district, 2012 and 2017

Figure 3: Ratio of median house price to median gross earnings (the affordability ratio) by Suffolk district, 2010 and 2020

Source: Office for National Statistics, ‘House price to residence-based earnings ratio’, 2021

Future trends

Suffolk +20, a series of presentations produced by the Knowledge & Intelligence Team in Public Health Suffolk, projected that Suffolk's higher than average house price to income ratios are set to rise further:

  • house prices are likely to continue to increase if build rates remain low
  • mortgage costs are likely to rise (as interest rates are likely to rise from current historic lows)
  • rental costs may also rise to offset tax changes affecting landlords

Fewer younger people and families are likely to be able to afford good quality housing:

  • rents have risen faster than earnings over the past 10 years
  • rents are forecast to rise by around 90% in real terms between 2008 and 2040 – more than twice as fast as incomes
  • the private rented sector expanded significantly from 10% to 18% between 2002 and 2012, with both home-ownership and social rented sector declining

The impact:

  • 60,000 (70%) of 25-34 year-olds in Suffolk will be living in private rented sector accommodation by 2037 according to projections.

What is the local picture? Households


The centres of Suffolk’s urban areas have the highest population density: Ipswich and some surrounding areas (for example Kesgrave) and Lowestoft account for the ten most densely populated areas, and then major towns including Bury St Edmunds, Sudbury. Higher population density spreads north east up the A12 from Ipswich towards Eyke and Sutton, and along the A14 corridor between Ipswich and Newmarket. The density map (Figure 4) highlights Suffolk’s market towns, and shows how many of the County’s centres of population are on its borders, meaning residents may look outside Suffolk for work and recreation.

Figure 4: Population density by hectare, by LSOA, Suffolk, 2020 (Office for National Statistics, 2018)

Map showing Suffolk centres of population have highest population density

Source: LGInform map of data from the Office for National Statistics. (2020 mid-year estimates published in 2021). Lower layer Super Output Area population density, persons per hectare.

Fuel poverty

A new national fuel poverty strategy (Sustainable Warmth) was published in 2021. Fuel poverty in England is now measured using the Low Income Low Energy Efficiency (LILEE) indicator, under which a household is considered to be fuel poor if:

  • the property has an energy efficiency rating of band D, E, F or G (as determined by the most up-to-date Fuel Poverty Energy Efficiency Rating (FPEER)2 Methodology)  
  • household disposable income (income after housing costs and energy needs) would be below the poverty line (an equivalised disposable income of less than 60% of the national median)

Figure 5: The LILEE metric including the fuel poverty gap

Diagram showing that households can move out of fuel poverty by increasing income or their home's energy efficiency rating

Properties with uninsulated solid walls had the highest rate of fuel poverty (21.2% of households). Households in this type of property were twice as likely to be fuel poor than households with insulated solid walls (9.3%).

Properties with cavity walls follow a similar pattern – households living in properties with uninsulated cavity walls are more likely to be fuel poor (15.0%). At £220, they also have a larger "average fuel poverty gap" ("the reduction in required fuel bill that the average fuel poor household needs in order to not be classed as fuel poor") than those households living in properties with insulated cavity walls (9.1% and £123). Properties without wall insulation are likely to have lower energy efficiency ratings and higher fuel costs - insulated walls have a higher median energy efficiency rating than uninsulated. According to figures from the National Energy Efficiency Data-Framework (NEED), properties studied had median percentage cost savings of 7.7% following the installation of cavity wall insulation, and 18.9% from installing solid wall insulation.

Older dwellings have a higher proportion of households in fuel poverty than newer dwellings. More than 1 in 5 (21.7%) households in dwellings built before 1919 were fuel poor compared to just 2 in 25 (8.0%) households in dwellings built in the 1990s. Over a quarter (26.8%) households in the private rented sector are fuel poor, while only 8.2% of owner-occupied households are fuel poor, however the "average fuel poverty gap" ("the reduction in required fuel bill that the average fuel poor household needs in order to not be classed as fuel poor") is greatest for owner-occupiers (£255 compared to £224 for private rented, and £138 for households in social housing). 

14.5% of all households in Suffolk (48,684) were estimated to be in fuel poverty in 2019 (Table 1). Nationally, the proportion of fuel poor households is estimated to be 13.4%.

Table 1: Estimated number of fuel poor households by local authority, 2019


Estimated number of households

Estimated number of fuel poor households

Proportion of households fuel poor





 East Suffolk 








 Mid Suffolk




West Suffolk








Source: Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, ‘Sub-regional fuel poverty England 2021 (2019 data)’. 

Figure 6: Proportion of households in fuel poverty (Low Income/Low Energy Efficiency), by LSOA (English Housing Survey 2018-20), Suffolk

Proportion of households that were fuel poor by LSOA

Source: Suffolk Observatory: Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy, Sub-regional fuel poverty data, 2021. 

Although fuel poverty is more likely to affect people living in rural areas (12.7%) rather than urban (11.1%) or rural town and fringe (9.9% ), the ten areas in Suffolk with the highest percentage of households in fuel poverty are in urban Ipswich or Lowestoft (Figure 6). People who rent their home are more likely to experience fuel poverty, especially private rented tenants (19.4%, compared to an England average of 11.1%, owner-occupied 7.7%). In England, single-parent households are most likely to be fuel poor (28%) and couples over 60 have the largest average gap (£289).

Excess winter deaths

The Office for National Statistics calculates excess winter deaths as the difference between the number of deaths in December – March and the average of deaths in the preceding August – November and the following April – July. There were around 4,520 excess winter deaths in Suffolk in the ten years 2009/10 to 2019/20 (including COVID-19).  

It is estimated that around 10% of deaths are due to fuel poverty, and 21.5% to cold housing. This would mean for Suffolk that around 450 excess winter deaths over ten years may be due to fuel poverty, and around 970 deaths to cold housing. 

Overcrowding and under-occupancy

There are two measures of occupancy used in the 2011 Census to assess overcrowding and under-occupancy;

  1. occupancy based on the total number of rooms in a household’s accommodation 
  2. occupancy based only on the number of bedrooms

A standard formula calculates the  number of rooms/bedrooms a household requires, based on the ages of the household members and their relationships to each other. The household is then given an "occupancy rating":

  • -1 implies the household has one fewer room/bedroom than required 
  • +1 implies there is one more room/bedroom than the standard requirement

Note: the Office for National Statistics has revised the calculation of occupancy rating (bedrooms): "in the original versions all households who reported having no bedrooms were reported as over-occupied (i.e. they had fewer bedrooms than required), but this is not necessarily correct as these are usually one-room hs has recalculated the occupancy rating, treating these households as if they have one bedroom". 

76.2% (236,940) of households in Suffolk lived in under-occupied housing, with a bedroom-based occupancy rating of +1 or more at the 2011 Census. This is significantly higher than the East of England (72.2%) and England (68.7%). The proportions ranged from 67.8% in Ipswich to 80.8% in Mid Suffolk. 87.7% of households occupied by residents aged 65 and over were under-occupied, significantly higher than the East of England (85.4%) and England (83.3%). 

2.4% (7,431) households in Suffolk lived in overcrowded housing, defined as having an occupancy rating of -1 or less (2011 Census).  This is significantly lower than the East of England (3.4%) and England (4.6%). In districts and boroughs, the percentages ranged from 1.6% in Mid Suffolk and Suffolk Coastal to 3.5% in Ipswich. 0.8% of households occupied by residents aged 65 and over were overcrowded, significantly lower than the East of England (1.1%) and England (1.7%).

At ward level, overcrowding ranged from 6.7% (Westgate, Ipswich) to 0.4% (Kirton, Suffolk Coastal). Overcrowding was most common in urban wards in Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds, Newmarket, Haverhill and Brandon (Figure 8).

Figure 7: Proportion of population living in overcrowded conditions (bedroom data), 2018 wards, 2011 Census

Figure 7: Proportion of population living in overcrowded conditions showing higher percentages (darker shading) in urban areas

Source: Suffolk Observatory: map of Census 2011 data.


Local numbers

1,833 households were recorded as homeless (and owed a relief duty) in Suffolk in 2020-2021.  Relief duties are owed to households that are already homeless and require help to secure settled accommodation - this is the statutory homelessness definition, counting only individuals or families who local authorities are obliged to assist. These figures do not reflect households in precarious housing situations who may have come close to homelessness during this time. People who are homeless (lacking their own secure, separate accommodation) but who don’t formally apply or register with a local authority or other homelessness agencies are omitted from official statistics. These households are often referred to as the ‘hidden homeless’.

 Districts ranked by number of homeless households (and owed a relief duty) in 2020/21 were:

  • West Suffolk (681)
  • East Suffolk (484)
  • Ipswich (449)
  • Babergh (121)
  • Mid Suffolk (98)

West Suffolk has the highest rate of households assessed as homeless (9.11 per 1,000), while Ipswich has the highest rate of households assessed as threatened with homelessness (23.36 per 1,000 households). 

Impact of COVID-19

The House of Commons Research Briefing on Homelessness (2021) reports that statutory homelessness has been rising since 2010. This has been attributed to factors including the "shortfall in the delivery of new affordable housing" and Housing Benefit reform. 

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted homelessness:

  • In England, the number of households owed a prevention duty was around one-fifth lower in 2020/21 than the year before. This is likely to be due to Government action to prevent evictions during the pandemic.  East Suffolk (37.3%) and West Suffolk (38.1%) saw the biggest falls in Suffolk. 
  • The number of households owed a homelessness relief duty was 6% higher than in 2019/20. Much of this rise was due to the ‘Everyone In’ programme which tasked local authorities with accommodating people at risk of rough sleeping. The biggest increases were seen in West Suffolk (30.0%) and Babergh (16.4%).

Crisis suggests the economic aftermath of COVID-19 may increase homelessness, including rough sleeping, and reports that local authorities expect to see an increase in private rented sector evictions and newly unemployed people made homeless.

Rough sleeping

In 2020-21, there were 187 people rough sleeping in Suffolk at the time of their housing application (all "owed a relief duty"). Most rough sleepers recorded in Suffolk in 2020/21 were in West Suffolk (n=66, 35.3%) and East Suffolk (n=50, 26.7%). 

In 2020 Crisis estimated 10,500 people were sleeping rough on any given night in 2020, falling by a third on the previous year. Research indicates increases in the number of people who sofa surf (sleep on floors/settees of a friend or relative). Crisis reports that it made up more than half of "core homelessness" (110,000 households or individuals in 2018/19, the most recent data).

Health impacts

Although the number of homeless people is generally very small in relation to the wider population in which they live, the health impacts, outcomes and inequalities experienced by this group are often significant. Ill health can be both a cause of homelessness and a consequence of it. Homelessness can also result from the loss of a job, social exclusion or a serious illness or accident, but in all cases the health – physical and mental – of people who are homeless is at risk.  

People experiencing homelessness are particularly vulnerable to tuberculosis (TB). They are more likely to be exposed to TB bacteria in hostel accommodation or settings where people who are also homeless gather to sleep or socialise. The immune stresses associated with homelessness – such as rough sleeping, cold, poor nutrition and drink or drug misuse – then make it more likely that someone exposed to TB will go on to develop the illness.  Injecting drug use is often more prevalent within homeless communities than in the general population. In addition to the health impacts of the substance misuse itself, the practice of sharing needles is a risk factor in the potential contraction of hepatitis and other blood borne viruses.

Accessing services for the homeless can be challenging for many reasons. Even if there is no reluctance to approach services, the homeless often have difficulty accessing services because of factors including:

  • having no fixed address
  • having no formal identification documentation
  • living in an area where there is limited or no service provision and where transport to services elsewhere is also limited and inaccessible on a financial level (this is particularly an issue in rural parts of Suffolk)
  • a chaotic lifestyle making it difficult to keep appointments
  • waiting lists to access services
  • the complexity of health needs, such as having a dual diagnosis of mental ill health and substance misuse, which adds further difficulty in accessing services

The consequences of these inequalities in access to services and appropriate support and treatment can be poorer health outcomes, such as prolonged periods of poor health, and even premature death. If people who are homeless are unable or unwilling to access community-based health care services, coupled with a lack of preventative and responsive treatment, this can lead to higher use of "unscheduled care such as A&E departments and ambulances" as well as longer stays in hospital. This  has demand and cost implications on services; it has been suggested that the homeless are one of the "most costly populations that the NHS provides provision for (8 times that of the housed population)". In an environment where resources are scarce, it is imperative that the health needs of homeless populations are effectively considered and addressed, not only to improve the health impacts and outcomes for this group, but also to remove pressure from health care provision.

Homelessness and deaths 

Rates of mortality in homeless populations are high in both absolute and relative terms compared to the general population, especially where chronic homelessness exists alongside physical and mental ill-health as well as substance misuse.

Nationally, homeless deaths have risen in recent years. There were an estimated 688 deaths of homeless people registered in England and Wales in 2020. These figures are affected by the Everyone In scheme so may underestimate the true number of homeless deaths. Of identified deaths:

  • nearly two-fifths (265 estimated deaths, 38.5%) were related to drug poisoning
  • most (87.8%, 604) deaths were in men
  • 13 deaths (1.9%) involved COVID-19
  • alcohol-specific causes accounted for 12.1% (83) of estimated deaths
  • suicide was recorded as the cause for 10.8% (74) of estimated deaths

A study (Homelessness Kills) commissioned by Crisis and undertaken by the University of Sheffield looking at the causes of death in homeless populations in England found that they are:

  • seven times more likely to die from alcohol related diseases than the general population
  • 20 times more likely to die from drug misuse
  • More than three times more likely to die from suicide than the general population
  • Almost seven times more likely to die from HIV or hepatitis
  • Three times more likely to die from chronic lower respiratory diseases than the general population, with an average age of death from this of 56 compared to 76
  • Twice as likely to die from heart attacks and chronic heart disease and at an average age of 59 – 16 years lower than the general population which is 75-years-old

Deprived areas

The English Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) 2019 were published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in September 2019. The IMD provides a way of comparing relative deprivation across England using seven domains; income, employment, health and disability, education, crime, barriers to housing and services, and the living environment. Relative deprivation shows how deprived an area is relative to other areas in England, so an area may become more or less deprived even if the absolute level of deprivation remains the same. This is different to absolute deprivation, which defines a minimum level of need enabling a person able to subsist and to participate actively in society. 

Figure 9 shows Suffolk categorised into deprivation quintiles, with the most deprived quintile in England shown in dark red and the least deprived quintile shown in dark green. Pockets of greater relative deprivation can be found in more built up areas such as Beccles, Bury St Edmunds, Felixstowe, Ipswich, Lowestoft, and Stowmarket.

Although the most deprived areas in Suffolk are concentrated in towns and other urban areas, highly localised rural deprivation occurs when small pockets of deprivation are masked in the data by areas of relative affluence. Very small areas of deprivation are difficult to identify and may mean people do not receive the same levels of resource and intervention that a larger and more defined area would.

Research into hidden needs in Suffolk highlighted three aspects of deprivation which have been constantly more concentrated in Suffolk since 2007. While children's education affects all areas of Suffolk, rural areas are particularly affected by accessibility to services (the average distances between neighbourhoods and post office, primary school, food shop and GP surgery) and the associated additional costs of travel, and housing quality and affordability (including high domestic fuel costs). Key issues affecting the health and wellbeing of rural communities include:

  • low paid work
  • fuel poverty
  • high housing costs
  • unemployment among young people
  • social isolation, especially among older people
  • difficulty accessing healthcare services such as GPs and dentists
  • lack of suitable public transport options
  • poor broadband and mobile phone network availability

Figure 9: Index of Multiple Deprivation, Suffolk, 2019

IMD Suffolk 2019

Source: Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government, “Indices of Deprivation 2019,” 2019.

Deprivation, whether experienced in an urban or rural location, can significantly influence an individual’s health and wellbeing: 

  • People living in the most deprived areas have on average the lowest life expectancy.
  • Males living in the most deprived tenth of areas in Suffolk can expect to live 7.4 fewer years compared with the least deprived tenth, and females can expect to live 5.0 fewer years. This compares to a 9.7 year gap for males and 7.9 year gap for females for England. 
  • Almost half of the difference in life expectancy between the most and least deprived areas in England is due to excess deaths from heart disease, stroke, and cancer in the most deprived areas. These are also the causes that make up a large proportion of the burden of premature death in England overall.

As well as lower life expectancy, there is a higher prevalence of many behavioural risk factors among more deprived areas compared with less deprived areas, including:

Groups with specialist needs

There are a number of community groups in Suffolk that may be at greater risk of living in unsuitable housing. The housing needs of these community groups are considered in further detail in the Suffolk Housing and Health Needs Assessment. There is a State of Suffolk chapter on groups at risk of disadvantage.

Older people

Some older people have specialist needs in terms of housing. Issues relating to mobility, dexterity and frailty may all lead to needs for greater levels of care at home, or adaptations to the home. In 2018 there were approximately 14,500 available places for older people in age-exclusive housing (Table 3), specialist housing (Table 4) and care beds (Table 5). Estimates suggest this will need to more than double to 32,000 by 2035.

Family carers

Just over 1 in 10 people of all ages (77,745; 10.7%) in Suffolk provide at least one hour of unpaid care a week (2011 Census). In May 2021, there were 13,595 individuals entitled to payment for Carers Allowance in Suffolk. As the population of Suffolk ages, it is likely that the number of people providing unpaid care in Suffolk will rise.

Those affected by domestic abuse

People in abusive relationships may experience many housing issues. Living in an unsafe environment is a risk to physical and mental health. However, there may be significant barriers to leaving an abusive home, such as the presence of children, uncertainty of where to go, lack of a long term living solution and fear of being found by the abuser.

Between April 2020 and March 2021 there were 15,299 recorded domestic abuse related incidents and crimes in Suffolk, which is equivalent to 20 incidents and crimes for every 1,000 people in the population. Domestic abuse related crimes account for around 1 in 5 (19%) crimes in Suffolk over this period, which is comparable to England and Wales (18%).

Transient populations

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) populations are a key transient population in Suffolk; other transient populations include students, migrants and seasonal workers. The 2011 Census recorded 604 people of "White: Gypsy or Irish Traveller" ethnicity, and 1,727 dwellings as "caravan or other mobile or temporary structure", and in 2015 the GRT population in Suffolk was estimated at approximately 1,500 individuals.

GRT groups are likely to experience poor health and have a life expectancy 10 years lower than the general population. The Suffolk Groups at Risk of Disadvantage needs assessment identified that although GRT populations who travelled had generally better health than those on static sites, Roma communities in Ipswich were living in generally poor quality housing and tended to have large families. Regardless of travelling status, GRT communities share the need for secure housing with the wider population.

Care leavers

The Government’s Care Leavers Strategy (2013)  and Keep on caring; Supporting Young People from Care to Independence (2016) identify care leavers as a vulnerable group of young adults who have particular needs in relation to housing and homelessness. The strategy notes that rising demand on social housing and other accommodation is making it more difficult for young people to find suitable accommodation as they enter adulthood. It also notes that care leavers consistently report that they do not always feel safe in their accommodation.

Data for Suffolk indicates that there were 345 care leavers in 2021. In 2021, 96% (n=168) Suffolk care leavers aged 17-18 were in suitable accommodation, and 87% (n=378) of care leavers aged 19-21.  71% (n=124) of care leavers aged 17-18 were in education, employment or training, and 49% (n=214) of care leavers aged 19-21. 

People that have served a custodial sentence

There are three prisons within Suffolk:

  • Warren Hill: category C (not open but low escape risk), operational capacity 264
  • Highpoint: Category C, operational capacity 1,325
  • Hollesley Bay: Category D (open), operational capacity of 480.

All are currently (December 2021) operating at close to capacity.

It is difficult to find an accurate number of people that have been in prison and are currently living in Suffolk. The total operational capacity of prisons in Suffolk is 2,069 but people may not necessarily reside in the area after being released. It has been estimated in West Suffolk that approximately 30% of people in the housing-related support system have a criminal conviction. The latest figures (June 2021) show 2,726 offenders under probation service supervision across Suffolk and Norfolk


For some veterans the transition from military life to civilian life can be challenging. This may include difficulties finding suitable, affordable housing upon leaving the military, particularly for those experiencing mental and/or physical ill health.

The 2021 Census will analyse the veteran population by geography, characteristics and by housing. This should be released from late Spring 2022.

The Annual Population Survey: UK armed forces veterans residing in Great Britain 2017 (published 2019, latest data available), estimated there were around 38,000 veterans (aged 16 or over) living in Suffolk. 

The veteran population is getting older, with the national service cohort contributing to the large proportion of older veterans. This age cohort is also more likely to live alone.

What is the local picture? Need

Estimates of housing need

New local plans are currently being prepared for most of Suffolk, to guide planned housing development, for example:

The figures in Table 2 are taken from the data accompanying the House of Commons Research Briefing Calculating housing need in the planning system (England)They were produced by Lichfields, a planning consultancy, and show what the housing need could be in each area, if the Government's standard method had been used by all Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) simultaneously in April 2021. This is hypothetical – the data doesn’t show the housing need that will be used by these LPAs: LPAs will carry out the calculation at different times, and the available data and status of Local Plans at the time will affect the outcome of the formula. However, it represents the most recent point at which objectively assessed housing need (OAN) was estimated using a consistent methodology.

Table 2: Indicative assessment of housing need, April 2021, by district, Suffolk

LPA classification Current plan (April 2020) Original methodology August 2020 proposal Current standard method (December 2020)
Babergh  Mainly rural 300 403 637 403
East Suffolk Largely rural 916 895 1,690 895
Ipswich Urban with city & town 489 456 496 456
Mid Suffolk Mainly rural 430 513 570 513
West Suffolk Largely rural 853 786 678 786

Source:  House of Commons Research Briefing Calculating housing need in the planning system (England)

Estimates of specialist housing for older people

Housing for older people reported:

  • only around 5% of people aged 65 and over live in specialist housing, but many more older people would like to do so.
  • living in specialist accommodation benefits older people's health and wellbeing, as well as making savings to the NHS and social care. 
  • extra care housing also helps family and carers who may struggle to provide enough care and support.

"Specialist housing" is housing for older people designed to meet their diverse needs of older people. There is  lot of variation in the types of housing offered, which include:

  • Age-restricted general market housing that may include some shared amenities such as communal gardens, but does not include support or care services. 
  • Retirement living or sheltered housing: This usually consists of purpose-built flats or bungalows with limited communal facilities such as a lounge, laundry room and guest room. Usually provides some support to enable residents to live independently. This can include 24 hour on-site assistance (alarm) and a warden.
  • Extra care housing or housing-with-care: This usually consists of purpose-built or adapted flats or bungalows with a medium to high level of care available. Residents are able to live independently with 24 hour access to support services and staff, and meals are also available. There are often extensive communal areas, such as space to socialise or a wellbeing centre. These developments may also be known as retirement communities or villages. 
  • Residential care homes and nursing homes have individual rooms within a residential building and provide a high level of care meeting all activities of daily living. They do not usually include support services for independent living. This type of housing can also include dementia care homes.

More housing aimed at older people will be required in the future, as Suffolk has an ageing population of Suffolk and the NHS and social care are facing financial challenges.

The Housing for Older People Supply Recommendations (HOPSR) model is one methodology that provides local authorities with recommendations about the number of units of age-exclusive housing, specialist housing and care beds that will be needed in future years. The research, led by Sheffield Hallam's Centre for Regional and Economic Social Research, uses national data from the Elderly Accommodation Counsel about the majority of older people's housing schemes in England. The model identifies predictors of the supply of older people’s housing and uses these to recommend the future supply requirements of older people’s housing. An additional 9,713 age-exclusive homes, 15,213 specialist homes and 6,624 care beds will be required in Suffolk by 2035, according to HOSPR recommendations. 

Note: the modelling in tables 3, 4 and 5 was produced for the 2019 State of Suffolk report. The numbers and geographies have not been updated, and refer to the old (2018) council boundaries.

Table 3: Units of age-exclusive housing1 by current 2018 provision, recommended provision for 2035 and the difference; by local authority, Suffolk

Area 2018 2035 Change
 Babergh 202 1,360 1,158
 Forest Heath 66 782 716  
 Ipswich 112 1,187 1,075 
 Mid Suffolk 83 1,471 1,388
 St Edmundsbury 19 1,608 1,589
 Suffolk Coastal 131 2,001 1,870 
 Waveney 94 2,011 1,917 
Suffolk 707 10,420 9,713

Source: Sheffield Hallam University, Housing for Older People Supply Recommendations

Table 4: Units of specialist housing2 by current 2018 provision, recommended provision for 2035 and the difference; by local authority, Suffolk

Area 2018 2035 Change
 Babergh 524 3,049 2,525
 Forest Heath 575 1,550 975 
 Ipswich 1,819 2,996 1,177 
 Mid Suffolk 893 3,194 2,301  
 St Edmundsbury 1,003 3,324 2,321 
 Suffolk Coastal 1,403 4,451 3,048 
 Waveney 1,059 3,925 2,866 
Suffolk 7,276 22,489 15,213

Source: Sheffield Hallam University, Housing for Older People Supply Recommendations

Table 5: Units of care beds3 by current 2018 provision, recommended provision for 2035 and the difference; by local authority, Suffolk

Area 2018 2035 Change
 Babergh 1,038 1,839 801 
 Forest Heath 331 865 534 
 Ipswich 1,041 1,778 737 
 Mid Suffolk 719 1,891 1,172 
 St Edmundsbury 985 1,908 923 
 Suffolk Coastal 1,274 2,672 1,398 
 Waveney 1,109 2,168 1,059 
Suffolk 6,497 13,121 6,624

Source: Sheffield Hallam University, Housing for Older People Supply Recommendations


  1. Age-exclusive housing is designed, built and let/sold exclusively to older people (typically 50+/55+) but without the supportive on-site management characteristics of sheltered housing.
  2. Specialist housing includes sheltered housing, enhanced sheltered housing and extra care housing; all of which offer varying levels of on-site supportive management.
  3. Care beds are residential settings where a number of older people live, usually in single rooms, and have access to on-site care; some also have registered nurses who can provide care for more complex cases. 

Impact of COVID-19 & inequalities

COVID-19 and lockdowns had a major impact on housing, which may be felt for years to come:

In Suffolk the number of households in temporary accommodation peaked in July 2020 (371), falling to 283 in May 2021, although the trend is gradually rising (313, December 2021).

The people most vulnerable to COVID-19 are also the most likely to be living in poor quality housing: older people, those with existing health conditions, people on lower incomes and those from ethnic minority groups. According to analysis from the ONS, the mortality rate from COVID-19 in the most deprived areas was almost double that in the least deprived areas between March and July 2020.

Overcrowded homes pose a significant health risk by increasing likelihood of spreading COVID-19. People from Black and ethnic minority groups are more likely to live in homes that have fewer bedrooms than needed; 30 per cent of Bangladeshi households compared to 2 per cent of White British households are overcrowded. This existing inequality is one explanation for the disproportionate Covid-19 outcomes faced by these groups.

Much of England’s housing remains unaffordable for lower income groups, despite changes to the local housing allowance; a result of increasing costs (house prices continued to rise during the pandemic) and insufficient supply over the last decade, as well as rising poverty and unemployment. This may result in more poor quality housing, financial pressures, debt and evictions, all of which are harmful to health

Private "renters are, in general, 50 per cent more likely to have fallen behind on their housing costs since the crisis started, compared to mortgaged homeowners”. This is because "people in the occupations that have been hit hardest by this crisis are more likely to be in private rented accommodation" and “[i]t is easier, in some ways, to delay payments for mortgages”. 

Further information